love

Air Laced with Love

There’s a storm rolling over us right now.

God, does it sound gorgeous.

At my feet my little dog sits, her eyes slowly drifting to sleep, eyelids heavy and half open.

Rain smacks against our roof. Thunder claps.

The birds still keep tweeting.

I’ve got the windows open, despite the storm, and my little family basks in the dewey light of spring. Toes splayed out on our worn comforter we sit with devices on our laps. These are the things gratitude is made of.

Inhale deeply.

Social media is full of messages of motherhood today. I know the national holiday holds significance for women all over the country. I’m touched and feel tender from the shift happening on the internet.

The shift towards real.

So many of these posts exclaim an appreciation and understanding of how holidays, while meant to celebrate, can also exclude.  For the women longing to be mothers, those estranged from their mothers or their own children. For those who kissed weary lashes and watched last breaths exit those beautiful bodies ready to be done.

Today, some men and women and children wonder and hurt and pray crying out, “F Mother’s Day”.

Thankful to those who see those who are yelling or are perhaps banging their fists silently against their own hearts.

I spent Mother’s Day weekend with my grandma and my mom in a hospital room. Grandma’s fine – had to have a few procedures done and was released earlier today. Our plans of champagne and hollandaise got replaced with jello and apple juice in small plastic cups.

I showed up. I sat in the blue chair with plastic that crinkled each time I moved my legs. From the corner I watched as caring nurses attentively gave their time and talents to Grandma. We ate cookies from plastic sandwich bags and listened to beeping screens. We breathed in the sacred air. Air laced with love tinged with concern and the miracle of modern medicine.

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Down the hall, in the ICU, families waited and breathed slowly and slept on couches in waiting rooms. I did not have to celebrate in that space. Not yet. That space holds a heavier kind of pain.

Losing someone has heightened my awareness and piqued my ears up towards all the ways our culture tells us we should be celebrating.

Today, I do not dread, but I know my time is coming. Father’s Day lurks quietly around June’s approaching corner. Soon start the advertisements for ties, barbecue grills, beer and outdoor adventures. Lowes and Home Depot will taunt me. My dad didn’t like many of those things anyway and he already had so many ties.

I’ll swerve and veer and navigate my own loss as we move towards another national day of recognition.

So today, here I sit, with toes splayed out, resting in the delicious balance of rain, of unknowns, of love. I say thanks for imperfection and for storms and for nurses. For those who have mothered me in a million trillion ways. And for another beautiful opportunity to remember those who live – in hospital rooms, in text messages, in our hearts and our dreams.

 

 

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In a Dressing Room on a Tuesday Evening

I’ve got a tender little heart. This I know. I see people and I feel for people and I’m always wishing I had a granola bar in my pocket when I drive by homeless folks standing on the corner.

I am quick to give to YouCaring campaigns and bring my friends flowers. These past few weeks I brought my husband’s team coffee at work. Made a handmade card for a mentor who just released a book and stuck a gift card in the mail for a new momma.

I don’t say this to brag. I just feel like I’m good at these things. At giving gifts. At making others feel seen.

And then I read this.

love

Ouch.

When it comes to taking care of treating myself, receiving. or extending the same kindnesses to myself, I realized I can often suck at this.

In my head I punish myself, rolling around threats of not-enough money or those flowers on the kitchen table should really be five dollars in my savings account instead. Little treats I give to others. Not often myself.  I brush off compliments and say, no, no, you first.

I prefer to be in the background. Anonymous.

It can be scary to be known. Sure, I want to be loved, but what if people don’t love me back?

What if I struggle to love myself too?

Earlier this weekend I found out another dear friend got a job at J.Crew Mercantile. Hmm, I thought, I’ve got some old gift cards burning holes in my stack – cards collecting dust, being saved for a sale or a time when I deserved to spend them.

Enter more punishing thoughts.

He needs pants more than me. I can wait another month. What if there is a better sale later?

“No”, my friend said firmly, “the time is now! Come visit me after work.”

“I deserve it” I tried to convince myself “plus everything is 50% off.”

In I walked, tentatively, into the beautiful shop. Realities of pending bills darting through my lizard brain, scratching and clawing at my ears, slithering you ought to leave.

Keep walking across the wood floor – straight to the sale rack.

My friend greeted me with a smile and open arms. She followed me around the store, making suggestions of new pants to try, a skirt she thought would look good. I asked her to bring me a t-shirt and a size bigger, or two.

I picked out a Spring outfit and felt waited upon and loved. Loved by a friend who kept telling me, ‘no, those pants really do look good’. Who encouraged me into a shop for some self-kindness and attention. Beauty found in feelings of admiration – for myself and the way my feet look in Spring sandals. Beauty in the reminder that it takes a little nudge to love myself and feel seen. That my needs matter too.

I was able to receive the gift of attention when I let myself be taken care of in a dressing room. On a Tuesday evening, in the back of J. Crew, she helped me feel beautiful too.

 

“Always,” said Snape.

I just got done watching the last Harry Potter movie. We spread out part one and two over the weekend and I sit here, on my big blue couch, letting big waves of sad wash all over me.

Pulse. Wave. Sad. Pulse. Wave. Breath. Sad.

My dad loved those books.

When Harry Potter was eleven, I was eleven. Those stories a staple in my childhood and my adolescence.

Rewind six hours today and I’m standing, for the first time, in the oddest bookstore in town. In a small closet my ankle boots anchor me in front of a tall set of shelves. Big, wooden ones tucked away from the other rows of scattered books. On one shelf, at eye level, sit stacks and stacks of the series. Copies of all seven stories are accounted for. Five or six of each part of the grand story.

Piles of red books with gold lettering on worn spines. They’re all there. The first one – purple spine. The Chamber of Secrets. And on the shelf below piles of blue spines with the same gold lettering. The Half Blood Prince. And the green spine. And the orange. All the stories there. On shelves.

Reminding me of pages once loved and frantic flipping of paper to figure out what would happen next to our epic heroes.

Whoosh.

I’m eighteen years old.

Dad driving me to the midnight showing of the newest film after my senior appreciation dinner. I was wearing a blue hoodie and my Varsity tennis sweatpants. I sat with friends against the wall in the theater, feeling on top of the world. Invincible. I had accomplished so much.

Woosh.

It’s summer vacation and the two of us are sitting in a small cabin, each holding a copy of The Deathly Hallows across from each other, racing to read faster. Both in flannel pajamas. Staying up too late, drinking cocoa out of blue speckled metal mugs.

We always bought two copies when the new books were released because we couldn’t wait for our own turn. We had to read together. Who could get through the cliffhanger faster? He usually won. And the next morning we’d sit on the tiny wooden porch in the sun, debriefing the story, gasping at who the last casualty was to fall to he-who-shall-not-be-named.

Memories in story as we flipped page together. That gangly Harry Potter and his heroic crew weaving his fictional life with mine. With Dad’s.

That’s what good books do – they become an inseparable part of your story.

Woosh.

And tonight, I miss him. And I miss Harry. And the beautiful gold lettering. And those worn, well-loved spines.

Now the books just sit beautifully, in stacks, on shelves in used-book stores and studies that he no longer enters.

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But both of their stories linger in my heart and my fingers and my memories. Touch the spines, finger the gold letters, breath.

Pulse. Wave. Breath. Sad.

In other news, I had fun writing this guest post for More Native Than the Natives. I like living in Colorado and am proud to be from this beautiful state. It ain’t all bad folks. Feel the wave. Breathe. Move again in the morning.

February Favorite Things

I’m back on the bean.

The truth will set you free, they say, and the truth is tea is just not as good as coffee. I tried. I failed. I’ll drink a bit more Earl Grey tea, but coffee has my heart. I’m trying to limit the vanilla syrup and switch to honey. Again, not as good. But I’m sipping my way towards less sugar and more love for myself when I “slip up”… or sip up. I crack myself up.

Ahh February. Typically the weather is colder, we get more snow, and I’m sad because Christmas and my birthday are over. February means I’m in for the long haul towards Spring. It’s not my favorite month, but here are a few of my favorite things that can make the month more bearable.

  1. Felt Letter Boards

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My friend got me a changeable letter board for my birthday and I am so excited! I am using it for a little fun this month. Send me your favorite beauty quote and I’ll capture it on my board and share it on Instagram. Then I’ll round up all the contributions for a special post at the end of the month. Leave a comment here or send your thoughts on beauty to 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com. Keep in mind, the phrase has to fit on a felt board.

Other future uses: Cocktail lists for parties. Positive vibes. Dinner Menus. Bible Verses. Love notes to Dylan or to myself.  Show your friends just how quippy you can be. It has retro charm and modern day potential.

2. Zucchini Noodles

Cutting out carbs seems sad. I love pasta. And potatoes. And carbs. Yet, I’m slowly pulling myself up on the Paleo bandwagon and trying to integrate healthier meals into the rotation. This Spiralizer will help. Come over for zoodles or maybe I’ll make you ribbons of butternut squash. The possibilities are endless.

Let this cookbook be our guide.

3.Groundhog Day

The old classic. I like it. It’s a reminder that we have choices in how we live our lives. That we can make changes, break out of routines, keep practicing until we get it right. Perhaps About Time captures these themes better, but one must pay homage to Bill Murray every February 2nd.

4. Air Plants

I kill plants. But Pinterest promises me all these plants need to live is air. They can pull the nutrients they need from the AIR. I just have to soak them in water once a week and their tangly arms and blooming flowers can grace glass bottles and hang from my book shelves with little effort. I got six for my birthday and I’m still placing them around my house. And ps, did you know you can buy PLANTS on Amazon? Of course you can.

5. RxBars

My new favorite protein bar. Again, a Paleo thing. But these protein bars have real ingredients, low sugar, and are tasty! I like the mint chocolate flavor. Dylan prefers peanut butter. I like that I feel full in the morning and there are no mystery ingredients. Throw one in your purse. Stick on in your husband’s work bag. Have a snack. Share the love.

Mine.

Unofficial titles I’ve had at work over the years. Levity Lady, Head of the Fun Committee, Social Activity Coordinator.

I like spending some of my work hours planning social outings, celebrations, and bringing humor to the office.

Some other words to describe my impulse to want to make people feel happier – encourager, coach, mentor, supervisor, friend, writer.

Whisperer of beautiful things.

As I work and I process and I heal my childhood wounds of the confusion of complex emotions, I realize just how many of my coping mechanisms involve trying to fix other’s happiness levels.  It comes out at work and it comes out in my family and I am wondering if it’s coming out here too.

I wrote this post at the end of 2016 about how hard it can be to encourage others. How challenging it is to look for the light. How lots of people prefer to yank us out of our seats and into the stinky mud on the ground. There is always more mud on the ground.

Because I feel for people, deeply, and I have trouble not dragging my empathetic toes into the circles of others. Because I care. And I want you to see the light. All of the glorious light that exists when we lift our chins.

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A beautiful friend boldly told me to start saying, firmly in my brain, “that is NOT mine.”

That grief, that conflict with your co-worker, that gut wrenching diagnosis. The government shut down, the fight with your mother, that unemployment and dashed dreams. All NOT mine.

It’s a new tool for survival. A safety shield for the ever-feeling heart.

Anne Lamott wisely says,

” there is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you’re waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind. This is the most horrible truth, and I so resent it. But it’s an inside job, and we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world. They have to find their own ways, their own answers. You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey. You have to release them. It’s disrespectful not to. And if it’s someone else’s problem, you probably don’t have the answer, anyway. Our help is usually not very helpful. Our help is often toxic. And help is the sunny side of control. Stop helping so much. Don’t get your help and goodness all over everybody.”

This quote got me thinking. Is that what I’m trying to do here? Acting out my need to save others by sharing what’s good. Sure, I hope my words cause epiphanies in your lives and spark you to think about small, simple blessings that dance through your days.

But I’m not sure it works, and that shouldn’t be the point.

The beautiful, beautiful point, is I do this work for me. I look for the beautiful to make me feel sane. And if it works for you too, my gosh, let’s cheers with some bubbles. I don’t want to be toxic, I want to be balm. I don’t want to be controlling, I want to be free.

And looking for the beautiful helps me, me, me, my, MINE to do that. That process of healing, of unhooking from other’s drama, of allowing me to stand on my chair, chin up, arms open and up, tears streaming down my cheeks.

I also read this funny article about writing on Medium today. Poet James Avramenko writes about what he’s learned from writing a poem every day for the last six years. I love this nugget of truth that he shares,

  • The ones you like often get no play, the ones you think suck often explode

My most visited post on this blog is about the tv show Friends. I’ve poured out my heart and talked about grief, and shared bravely about MY own stuff. And the light hearted post about my obsession with Friends is most frequently read. The deep stuff gets glossed over and often ignored. I thought last week’s post was awesome. No comments. Crickets. Doubts. Temptations to press delete.

As an artist, that’s frustrating. But James is right. We don’t get it, we just write. We don’t know what’s going to stick and we can’t anticipate the impact. Maybe there is none.

So for this year, I’m changing my intention for the blog. I don’t want to get my help all over you. I want to help myself. Help myself heal, love this magnificent, magical world, build gratitude, dream bigger, and experience new things. I’m going to write about it.

If you feel it’s beautiful, consider sharing. As James also says, “Once it’s in the world, it’s out of your hands.”

Thanks for joining me.

 

 

Light a Candle

Horrific. The only way to describe what happened in Las Vegas last night.

People will say there are no words.

Wrong.

There are lots of words.

Words of Anger. Of Sadness. Of Loss. Of Grief.

Words of magnitudes.

Yet, we feel helpless. So we say “there are no words.”

Wrong.

There are words of hope. And of comfort. And of light.

Of a saying “hi” to our neighbor, or “Hey, let’s go give blood.”

Or “Here, have a sandwich,” or make a call to a senator to say “How dare you stay silent on gun control again and again.”

These acts CAN NOT be silenced.

Yes. If you feel grief, take time, stay quiet, ponder with loved ones and protect yourself.

But, please, oh please, stop saying there are no words. Try this list if you’re stuck.

Take a moment.

Light a candle instead.

Whisper, sing, shout or wail a prayer.

For the mothers and daughters, sons, and brothers and fathers who are hurting and have lost ones most dear. For the co-workers who won’t have a project mate, the child now parentless, the countless kids across the country afraid to go to school, or the movies, or the football stadium.

Light a candle for all the conversations this incident should spark.

Light a candle for you. A person with words, who can use them for good.

Light a candle for hope and for healing.

Spread the light.

 

I do not want to take away from the heaviness of tragedies aftermath. Yet, I do believe dwelling in good brings peace. Share in the comments a few things you found to be beautiful in the slurry of mixed emotions following today.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Forgive my tardiness. Yesterday seemed to get away from me. It is with great excitement that I post another guest contribution from reader Melody. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on love and responding to the “Where Your Heart is Challenge.”

Here is her response.

Home is where the heart is.  It’s cliche, but it’s so true.  Today is Valentine’s Day and I love Valentine’s Day.  As a little girl Dad always made sure that Mom had roses and a big box of chocolates, while my sister and I were gifted a single red rose and a tiny heart box of chocolates,  It wasn’t the flowers and candy that made me love Valentine’s Day though.  It was the town I grew up in.

Loveland, CO is the Sweetheart City, and it lives up to it’s name. I’ve lived all over the United States and small towns everywhere put up Christmas decor on their streetlights; declaring to the community there is a reason to celebrate. And while that happens in Loveland at Christmas, what truly made it special to me were the February streetlights, happily decked out with giant red hearts. You could pay to have a special Valentine’s message placed on one for all the world to see.   My memories are crowded with images from childhood.  Sitting in the back seat of the car driving down Eisenhower next to Lake Loveland, I would dream of the day I’d see my name on one of those beautiful ruby hearts.
I haven’t lived in Loveland for 18 years now. My parents moved to Oregon 11 years ago.  And every February my heart grows a little bit heavy with the missing of my hometown.  Last March I returned to Loveland for a funeral.  I stayed with family friends and saw lots of friends and I was reminded that there is no place on earth my heart feels more at home than in my beloved sweetheart city.  The friends I have there are extensions of my family, the mountains sing to my soul of freedom and peace, and the streetlights proclaim loudly that love is here and love is good.
With memories and relationships rekindled this has been as year filled with Loveland stories for my friends here in NM and my husband.  And so as this Valentine’s Day approached I was excited to once again try to make my kid’s memories as special as my childhood ones but also filled with wistful dreams of streetlight hearts.  We gave the kids their gifts and cards this morning and faced the usual morning rush to get to school.  I left 15 minutes later than I wanted to but that was ok.  As I rounded a corner a couple blocks from my home I did a double take.  There on the streetlight was a red, hand painted, cardboard heart reading “Moose loves Moosette”  I took a deep breath and choked back the tears.  My Valentine fulfilled my childhood dream.  And it doesn’t matter that I’m not in Loveland this Valentine’s Day.  Home is where the heart is; and today I found that my heart could be home wherever I am because the love I carry from the people and places I have loved is always with me.
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Happy Valentine’s Day from New Mexico!